There are lessons from the Grenfell Tower disaster for Riverside Housing Association as it faces continued criticism of its bossy ways.
These lessons will have been studied by Ms Sarah Paton Riverside`s north regional director as she negotiates with Carlisle City councillors who are fighting to ensure that Riverside tenants get a fair deal.
The Grenfell lessons are about more than cladding and sprinklers. They are about tenants` long-standing anxiety about fire and safety and why no one listened.
The tower`s landlord, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) has come under enormous criticism, most powerfully from the unofficial tenants’ Grenfell Action Group.
The action group`s criticisms of the recent refurbishment and of tenants’ safety fears were ignored – with the consequences we now know all too well.
The Kensington and Chelsea TMO was formed by a borough-wide transfer of housing – 9,700 homes in all – from the Conservative-controlled council in 1996.
This TMO like many others was a reaction to the council bureaucracies which had previously managed social housing .
TMO`s were promoted by their advocates as more responsive and more representative than councils with genuine accountability and clear and open lines of communication.
All this proved to be no more than a dream, Some might say it was a hoax. Whatever, it was due to be repeated three hundred miles away in Carlisle and no doubt in other places as councils planned to privatise their social housing or rid themselves of it some other way.
In Carlisle in 2002 the city lost about the same number of social homes as that involved in Kensington and Chelsea.
Carlisle never got a TMO. It got the Merseyside-based Riverside Housing Association which like the Kensington and ChelseaTMO was also promoted as more responsive and more representative than the city council.
But what resulted in Carlisle in the years that followed was not much different from what happened subsequently in Kensington and Chelsea except fortunately, there was no Grenfell disaster.
There has been no genuine accountability in the 14 years since Riverside took over in Carlisle . Riverside is accountable to no one but itself.
And there has been no open lines of communication. Tenant representation was abolished when Riverside took over and ended all tenant groups.
Instead , Riverside installed its obnoxious dictatorial Persistant Complaints Procedure with sanctions against complaining tenants.
Unsurprisingly (as happened in Kensington) because Riverside never listened, Carlisle also got its unofficial action group similar to the Kensington and Chelsea unofficial action group, Grenfell Action Group.
This group was Longtown Action for Heat formed by tenants to fight a large-scale Riverside heating cock up that caused misery and suffering to dozens of tenants and landed them with massive energy bills of £4,000.
Sarah Paton is due to to meet the critical Carlisle councillors soon with a package of measures that will hopefully make Riverside more accountable to its tenants.
Hopefully she will have learned the why-no-one-listened lesson of Grenfell Tower.
But don`t hold your breath.
Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228